Pinkish Black’s self-titled debut LP comes courtesy of Texas’s Handmade Birds, a label helmed by R. Loren of Pyramids, the Denton five-piece that happens to be one of the more inventively-listenable aural entities in heavy music/metal’s left field. Like Pyramids, Pinkish Black has no immediate or even eventual sonic forefathers. And yet it manages to feel at home in the Handmade Birds roster (His Name Is Alive, Blut Aus Nord, Black Boned Angel and Celestial to name a few) by expertly occupying the darker side of the label’s light-and-dark balance.
Pinkish Black deliver a modern update of the blurry boundary between the wailing-wall of goth-rock drama and the darker realms explored by early-1980s post-punk, bringing to mind not what Christian Death or The Birthday Party or .45 Grave actually sound like, but how we all honestly wished they sounded at the end of the day. There are sporadic flirtations with doom-metal and the mid-’90s post-hardcore foray into rough keyboard treatment (The VSS), but mostly this is unlike anything past or present. Furthermore, this is only two people, and even more remarkable is that one of those people commands a keyboard while the other sits behind a drum kit. That pretty much goes against the rules of heavy unless the practitioners in question are truly adept at what they do, and these two are just that.
While a good portion of this record plods along mid-tempo or slower, Side B opener “Tell Her I’m Dead” explodes midway through with an almost free-form onslaught — a hyperblast all-instruments-go! freakout of a most welcome nature. Album closer “Against the Door” has the keyboard doing double-duty, providing furry sheets of thick sound while acting as an ultra low-end bass for the track’s rhythmic feel of chasing someone to the death. Four out of these seven tracks lock into a good and catchy groove, be it by way of vocal hook or rhythmic repetition, but this is not a pop exercise nor does it conjure the p-word in the least. This is dark stuff that rocks when it wants to rock, and that’s approximately 60 to 70 percent of the time. Pinkish Black achieve a heaviness far beyond what their instrumental or two-man means should allow, and this should appeal to those whose tastes spread across the entire landscape of heavy.